November is National Home Care and Hospice Month; an annual observance established by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. Back then, only a few thousand people received hospice care. Today, nearly 1.5 million Americans receive hospice care every year.

With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, the need for health care continues to rise and home health and hospice care continue to play a growing role both nationally and locally.

Hospice at home

“Hospice is a godsend,” said Ann Marlin of Antwerp, whose father was a patient, and her mother, Patricia, is currently receiving home health and hospice care. “The support they provide is awesome. The nurses keep us informed, give us advice, and answer our questions.”

Patricia Marlin has received scheduled in-home nursing visits for four years. As dementia and Alzheimer’s disease took a greater toll, the family hired full-time caregivers to care for her at home.

Hospice graduation

Last month, Patricia Marlin “graduated” from hospice care; meaning her condition improved to the extent that she no longer qualifies for hospice.

“She was dealing with aspiration, which is when you swallow, food goes down the wrong way and enters the airway or lungs,” explained Tomi Myers, a hospice nurse for 15 years with CHP Home Care & Hospice. “She’s improved to eating three meals a day again.”

Friendly, familiar, faces

According to Ann Marlin, having a friendly, familiar face, like Myers in the home to care for her mother is comforting.

“You become friends,” she said. “Using a local provider like CHP also means you get service really fast. When she needed oxygen, we got it the same day.”

Support at home

CHP Hospice nurse, Tomi Myers, left, shows Jennifer Mohr how to dress wounds for her mother, Freddie Marie Saylor. CHP Home Care & Hospice provides wound treatment and care to patients in partnership with The Wound Pros.

Freddie Marie Saylor of Payne is also receiving care at home after breaking her leg. In 1994, she received one of the first bone marrow transplants – a procedure that was considered experimental at the time.

Today, she is cared for at home by her daughter, Jennifer Mohr with help from her brother, Al, and their father Leman. Neighbors comfort them with food and errands.

Mrs. Saylor is also diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s. But, the cause for home nursing visits is pressure ulcers that developed from being bedbound.

Wound care

“CHP contracts with a company called The Wound Pros and Medicare pays for a specialized wound care nurse practitioner to come to the home,” said Myers. “Otherwise, she would have to go to a wound center, which is impossible in her condition.”

Nurses come to clean and change dressings and to provide instructions on how to turn and reposition her in bed, how to clean the wound, and educate the family about the disease process.

Education for caregivers

“It’s all new to me,” said Mohr, “I’m still learning. I really appreciate having someone to actually come and show me what to do and to have someone to ask questions.”

The family is working on getting home care aide services a couple of times a week to help with bathing. They also may utilize the inpatient hospice center in Defiance for respite care.

The services we need

The Hospice Medicare Benefit covers up to five days of respite care, including transportation, for a hospice patient to leave their own home and stay at an inpatient facility to provide relief for family caregivers.

“We have appreciated working with nurses at CHP Home Care & Hospice,” Mohr said. “They have provided the services we need, given guidance, and made us all feel more comfortable.”

Top photo: CHP Home Care & Hospice nurse, Tomi Myers, provides care for Patricia Marlin of Antwerp, as she is “graduated” from hospice care because her condition improved to the point that she no longer meets hospice guidelines.